A LONG MARCH Interview with Tammy "TS" Botkin - sharing the story of Filipino WWII veterans

A LONG MARCH Interview with Tammy
Tammy "TS" Botkin is the director and producer of A LONG MARCH.


Tell us about the issue your film focuses on.

A LONG MARCH tells a story of WWII from the perspective of about a million Filipino veterans who were under the sovereignty and command of the United States during war time. These veterans tell a story of duty and honorable service that has been effectively erased for the US’s narrative of WWII.

As the film unthreads claims of service denied by Acts of Congress (The Rescission Acts of 1946), we stumble across damning evidence of US Army policies that also denied recognition based on race and gender. While these documents point to the unconstitutional exclusion, veterans are trapped in a legal Catch 22, and continue to be left out of history.

Whose perspectives does your film feature?

A LONG MARCH opens on an old white man who, through discovery of WWII art, learns that there is a lot about WWII history he doesn’t know. His realization offers a leaping off point for a different version of history, an apologetic, led by Filipino American Army General Antonio Taguba, WWII veterans 2nd Lt. Celestino Almeda and Pvt. Rudy Panaglima, family members, and advocates. Their stories, heartfelt and revealing, arch under the voice of Narrator Feliciana Reyes, a WWII veteran who was denied recognition based on her gender.

Why was it important to tell this story through the perspectives of your film participants?

In telling the story of Filipino veterans of WWII we felt it was important to take an inclusive approach. We wanted to bring in the widest audience we could and that meant allowing diverse perspectives that admit ignorance and shock as well as knowledge and anger. Far from being a traditional film about war, A LONG MARCH includes a story of heartbreak, of unrequited loyalty, and of loss of identity at the hands of the US Government, and it calls Americans to recognize and right the wrong.

Why is this film relevant to our current moment?

The problems central to A LONG MARCH, racism and sexism, are alive and rampant in the US. I do not think we can stop these problems in the future without looking to the past, acknowledging it, and healing it where we can. Today, there are Filipino American groups still pressing for the repeal of the Rescission Acts of 1946 which is vitally important because the section dealing with Filipino veterans is on its face a racist Act, which stands as “good law” in the US, even now. It is only by dismantling the structures of the past, like The Rescission Acts, and calling the US Army into accountability for its policies, that we stand a chance at preventing future failings.

For you, what is most important that audiences take away from your film?

Do you think you know history? Take a look again, because there is probably a perspective, or a hundred, that you are missing, and it is missing because systems of power intend it to go missing. We can effect the lives of others when we learn their perspectives and join in demanding their inclusion. For Filipino veterans and their families, it isn’t too late…in fact, it can never be too late to challenge and dismantle the systems that keep us in ignorance. You can do something, even if it is just sharing the film, what you learned, or joining an email list to stay informed…it takes just the first step.


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